The USPS is going to default on a loan payment this month, $5.5 billion in fact, and without a bailout from Congress it may shut down entirely this winter. Patrick R. Donahoe, US Postmaster General, has tried reforming the bureaucracy but has been unable to stem losses enough to avoid the current situation. The New York Times points out innovations such as the internet as putting a serious dent in Post Office business, but also does not shy away from discussing the USPS budgetary allocation of some 80% for labor costs alone, compared with much lower expenditures at private companies like UPS and FedEx. This is due in part to generous union labor contracts and health benefits better than many federal employees receive. One key difference, of course, is that the USPS is a federally mandated entity that must provide universal mail service to any address within the United States. So comparisons between it and private organizations can be a bit misleading. In the long term, increasing revenue is the key for a private organization’s survival, whereas the Post Office is currently pursuing a strategy of cost-cutting to attempt to survive. Among cost-cutting proposals are the ending of Saturday delivery, a move vigorously opposed by representatives from rural regions who cite their constituents dependency on the Post Office’s Saturday delivery to receive prescription medication.

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